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Conflict: Escalation,Factors, Addressing Conflict Management

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• What is conflict and how does it escalate?
• What are some causes or factors that underlie conflict?
• Explain the importance of addressing conflict.
• Explain the purpose of effective conflict management.

As you are explaining these concepts, think of ways they have had an impact on important decisions you have made in your life. Was there a point in your life where you experienced a conflict that required some thoughtful management? Think about this incident. Try to imagine yourself as an unbiased, neutral observer of this conflict.

2. Next, describe the incident using the terms and ideas you have learned in this section. Think about the following: As an objective observer, how much of a "conflict coward" were the major players in the situation you are describing? What were some of the factors that led to or exacerbated the conflict? How did the parties go about trying to deal with the matter at hand? How did it turn out? Did your ultimate decision help lead to a satisfactory solution or outcome in some way?

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Solution Summary

This detailed solution discusses conflict. It defines conflict and explains why it escalates, gives factors or causes that underlie conflict, the importance of addressing conflict and purpose of conflict management. Also gives personal example, describing how much of a "conflict coward" were the major players in the situation you are describing and some of the factors that led to or exacerbated the conflict and how the parties went about trying to deal with the matter at hand. It explains how the situation turned out.

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Conflict is defined as "a struggle or contest between people with opposing needs, ideas, beliefs, values, or goals" (Foundation Coalition, 2003). Conflicts may arise due to miscommunication between people or misunderstanding about others' beliefs, values, ideas, or intentions. Conflict may be the result of incompatibility, a difference in interests, goals or aspirations, or failure to have suitable incentives to encourage cooperation. Conflict may be due to specific issues, such as performance discrepancies or compensation issues, or it may be the result of a bad day.

Conflict may escalate, should it be allowed to fester unresolved. Mediation specialists suggest there are five stages of conflict. During the first stage, conflicts arise that are resolved in a cooperative manner. Should that not be possible, in stage two, the parties "fluctuate between cooperation and competition" (Noll, 2013). Rather than work together, each party begins to deal with information favoring one's own position. Logic and understanding are used as tools to convince the other party of the one's position. By stage three, both parties have lost hope for a reasonable outcome. Behavior is now hostile, with neither party willing to yield to the other; however, each party feels that with enough pressure the other party may yield. Often in this stage, individuals are stereotyped, with each individual working to gain the upper hand. In stage four, the parties are basically acting like children, unable to comprehend their opponent's ideas, feelings or situation. The conflict escalates to stage five when "one side commits an action that is felt by the opposite side as a loss of face" (Noll, 2013). Stage five involves escalating the conflict to mythical proportions, with each party willing to stake large risks in an effort to be deemed the winner.

It is important to address conflict in order to prevent it from escalating. Conflict is anti-productive, and results in individuals spending time on issues other than the task at hand, frequently, with the focus shifting from the issues of the business to more personal items. It is difficult to make forward progress in the event the atmosphere is not cooperative. Unresolved conflict often results in "loss of productivity, the stifling of creativity, and the creation of barriers to cooperation and collaboration" (Myatt, 2012). Unresolved conflict also leads to ...

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  • BA, University of Southern California
  • MSS, United States Sports Academy
  • Ed.D, Boise State University
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